Unlucky the movie, to have the luminous memories of the earlier mini-series to compare to it, especially when the series â€“ lavish and leisurely â€“ set the dramatic standard for a large or small-screen rendering of a literary classic. Just as the 2008 move version of â€œPride and Prejudiceâ€ had the misfortune to be compared to the Jennifer Ehle-Colin Firth retelling (which many Jane Austin fans regard as the definitive â€˜Pride and Prejudiceâ€™) so must this version stand up against the previous â€˜Bridesheadâ€™. Which it does manage, after a fashion and to be to be strictly fair; the pace of a two-movie must be pretty brisk, after a leisurely, ten-hour plus exploration of several different love affairs â€“ the first of those affairs being the attraction of a young Charles Ryder (Mathew Goode) for the Marchmain family and their splendid house, Brideshead. Then there is the hopeless affection of the youngest son of the house, Sebastian Flyte (Ben Wishaw) for Charles, Charlesâ€™ love for Sebastianâ€™s sister Julia (Hayley Atwell), and the fierce devotion of their mother, Lady Marchmain (Emma Thompson) for the Catholic faith. Finally, there might also be the cool-eyed pursuit of power and position by Juliaâ€™s husband, Rex Mottram (Jonathan Cake). Greta Sacci, Michael Gambon, Patrick Malahide and Anna Madeley round out the cast, with Castle Howard in Yorkshire again playing the part of Brideshead, the stately home. All of these various meditations on love and the varieties thereof, wealth, power and religion are melded fairly efficiently into a narrative which hits all the high-points, more or less in order. With the cast featuring the hi-end acting talent that it does, this version canâ€™t possibly be considered a waste of watching time â€“ not least of it being that Goode and Wishaw appear much more age-appropriate in the earlier scenes, when they are supposed to be college student.
Of the extras on this DVD, the most memorable is â€œThe World of Bridesheadâ€, a look at the filming in various locations, and a collection of omitted scenes, most of which I wish had been added to the DVD release.
Brideshead Revisited is available through Amazon.com and other retail outlets.
Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her current book project â€“ The Adelsverein Trilogy is also available through Amazon.com. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com